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Seven-time TDF champ comes second in debut Ironman 70.3 - and then 'snubs' winner, claims NZ press...

Following a weekend in which the sports headlines in Britain have been dominated by the handshake – or rather, the lack thereof – between Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, comes news of another perceived slight involving an athlete apparently refusing to press the flesh. This time, one of the men involved is none other than seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.

As reported on road.cc last week, the Texan has returned to competitive sport, announcing his participation in Ironman events throughout 2012.

The first of those took place in Panama yesterday, when the 40-year-old finished second in the half-distance Ironman 70.3 triathlon, won by New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty, 2004 Olympic triathlon gold medallist.

Afterwards, Docherty reveled that Armstrong had brushed past him at the end of the race, reports the New Zealand Herald, without acknowledging his victory, although he did congratulate him later on, adds the newspaper, which described the initial omission as a ‘snub.’

"I'm not sure what it was all about, I can only assume he was just disappointed to get beaten," Docherty said.

"I did shake his hand a little bit later. He's on a completely different level and planet to us guys [triathletes]," he added.

"It's great to have him in the sport, he certainly adds something. It's an eye opener to see how he gets mobbed and the chaos around him."

Unsurprisingly Armstrong, who competed in triathlon as a teenager before concentrating on road cycling, put in a quicker time than Docherty on the cycling leg of the event.

However, the New Zealander was surprised that his rival, whose 22 Tour de France stage wins include two prologues and four individual time trials, wasn’t more dominant on the bike, although at 90km the distance is well in excess of a typical grand tour time trial stage.

"I thought Lance would absolutely cream us on the bike, but he was probably in a similar position to me where he wasn't too sure how to pace himself," said Docherty. "He certainly looked like he was holding back and that was probably why he ran so well off the bike."

The Kiwi overhauled Armstrong 2.5km from the end of the third and final leg of the event, a 21km run.

"It's great that I could hold one up for the other triathletes and show that it's certainly not a sport that you can just walk into and dominate straight away," he added.

"It's quite an honour to see a seven-time Tour de France winner and someone you admire standing in second place below you on the podium. It's a highlight of my career."

The current controversy over apparent refusal to shake hands isn’t confined to the leading names in sport either. Yesterday, TV cameras caught the Aston Villa mascot blanking his Manchester City counterpart ahead of the teams’ Premier League clash at Villa Park.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.